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From the hairdessing salon where an old man measures out his life in haircuts, to the concert hall where a music lover carries out an obsessive campaign against those who cough in concerts; from the woman who reads elaborate recipes to her sick husband as a substitute for sex, to the woman 'incarcerated' in an old people's home beginning a correspondence with an author that enriches both their lives - all Barnes' characters, in their different ways, square up to death and rage against the dying light.
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All [the stories] are a joy to read as Barnes glides between forms... Each story is distinct and indelible, a tribute to the form. Above all they make you think about growing old and what, if anything, can be done about it. - Glasgow Herald
Masterly...his best stories have a strong air of Maupassant about them...extraordinarily effective...a compelling series of vignettes of old age, executed with great skill - Daily Telegraph
Sheer intelligence and acute observation carry the whole production...helps sustain a reader's faith in literature - New York Times Book Review
His stories have a photographic clarity, a psychological realism that embraces extremes of feeling...with a deliciously wry streak - Observer
Splendid, beautiful...reads like Turgenev - Spectator
Admirably unsweetened by saccharine sentimentality...exhilaratingly crisp, crystallised by Barnes's wintry intelligence... The clean, acidic accuracy of Barnes's writing is supremely enjoyable - Sunday Telegraph
Taken together, these tales present a powerful account of the snatched joys and encumbrances of decrepitude in well-turned prose that brings wit, charm and gravity to its theme - Financial Times
Julian Barnes is the author of eleven novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The Lemon Table and Pulse; and three collections of journalism, Letters from London, Something to Declare and The Pedant in the Kitchen. His latest book, Levels of Life was a Sunday Times Number Onebestseller. He lives in London.